The Hounds of Oblivion by Brendan Carroll.
This novel is my first venture into writing a horror book. The main character (or one of them) is a writer (naturally) and he is about to become involved in a series of murders more bizarre than anything he could have imagined for one of his novels. Clint Evans and his friend, Marshall, who happens to be a constable, try to solve the murders before the FBI decide to arrest one or both of them as prime suspects. Their investigation leads them to places they never expected to exist, even less visit, and much, much less survive.
Friday ~ Early Afternoon
Mrs. Nguyn was very curious about the breastplate. She asked a lot of questions Clint could not answer. As she took measurements from the inside of the form-fitting cuirass, she noticed the stain on the metal.
“What this?” she asked and ran her hand over the spot of dark brown corrosion.
“I don’t know,” he answered another of her questions irritably.
“Look like blood,” she said, clucking her tongue.
“No way,” he said and frowned at the spot. “That thing is a thousand years old.”
“Two t’ousand maybe,” she agreed. “Still look like blood to me.” She scraped at the spot with a seam ripper. A small scraping dislodged and she wiped it on her jeans. “Maybe not. Too dark, I think.”
“Yeah, too dark,” Clint agreed and picked up the breastplate.
“OK, I call you when it finished,” she said and smiled at him. “You tell Jamie we got new special for Halloween next week. This time we do black cat eye.”
“Black cat eye,” Clint repeated. “I’ll tell her.”
He headed home in a fit of depression, trying to decide whether to call someone about Allen or just sit it out. Dillon had promised to call him when he heard from the coroner. Allen’s sister would be coming in from Dallas and she would make the funeral arrangements. Lydia’s folks lived over toward Austin somewhere. He would have to go over for the wake and the funeral, no doubt. Jamie would be devastated. She really like playing cards and dominoes with the Bartons on occasion and often saw Lydia around town.
He flopped down in front of his computer after putting the cuirass back on the mannequin. He had reached a point in his book where he needed to write a particularly depressing part for his protagonist losing his wife in bizarre murder. Little had he known that someone he knew and loved would have been murdered right here in the heart of Nowhere, Texas. A murder! Well, at least, he was in the correct mood to write about it.
He opened his word document and found the end of the manuscript. Watching the cursor blink cleared his mind and he began to type.
“OK,” he whispered to himself after a line or two. “That’s better, but a good drink would be even better.”
A quick trip to the kitchen for a glass of bourbon and coke and a bag of Cheetos ® and he was ready. He loved the orange cheese puffs, but the stuff was always getting all over his keyboard. He ate a few puffs, wiped the powdery residue on his jeans and started typing again.
Walt knew the police would never believe him. After the incident a week before, he would be the first suspect in the lineup. Charlotte lay on the carpet, the last of her blood seeping into the fiber under her head. Everything on the dresser was on the floor. The white lace doily was clutched in her hand, stained with blood. Blood spatters decorated the walls, the mirror and the white bedspread in brilliantly bizarre vines and flowers patterns. Gaping wounds on her throat and body looked impossible to Walt. No one could have done this to Charlotte. No one could have perpetrated this heinous crime. It was all an illusion, a nightmare or a hallucination.
Someone had almost cut her head off. But why?
Walt looked around in panic. The blood was nowhere near dry. The killers could still be in the house! He grabbed up a baseball bat and began to walk through the house cautiously. When the search was done, he sighed in relief. Whoever the killer was, he had already left. Walt picked up the phone and dialed 9-1-1.
Clint stopped writing and picked up his glass. He took a sip of the bourbon and coke and re-read what he had typed as he held the glass against his forehead.
Even though the EMT’s had taken Charlotte’s body away hours earlier, two homicide detectives were still poking through his belongings, Charlotte’s things and the entire house like two monkeys looking for bananas, taking notes and measurements. So far as Walt could tell, they had found very little evidence related to the murder of his beloved Charlotte. He sat on the sofa watching as the short one with balding hair checked the window locks for the third time.
“Strange that everything was all locked up, don’t you think, Walt?” he asked.
“Charlotte was a cautious woman,” Walt told him yet again.
“And nothing seems out of order, other than the immediate area around the dec… your wife,” the detective said. “And you have no idea of anyone who might want to harm her?”
“Of course not!” Walt snapped. “Look, you have done nothing substantial by way of trying to find my wife’s murderer. He could be miles away by now and here you are, you and your buddy, poking around in my wife’s drawers, looking for what?”
“I beg your pardon!” the detective said. “I have not been poking in your wife’s drawers!”
Clint stopped, picked up his drink and took another big swallow. He was feeling the liquor. His depressing scene had just taken a turn for the better.
“What’s up? What happened?” Clint asked as he neared the constable.
“Well, looks like we another murder. Probably the same guy,” Dillon said and nodded toward the floor.
Clint did not want to look. He drew another deep breath and looked down, though he already knew blood was involved, he could smell it.
The outline of something rather square was drawn in white in the midst of a huge, slowly drying puddle of blood. The brilliant red stood out starkly on the dark gray floor. Clint was glad he had not eaten anything for awhile. His stomach tried to heave, but he forced it to settle down and covered his mouth with the back of his hand.
“What is that, Marshall?” he asked and realized that his voice betrayed his horror. “What the hell is that horrid smell?”
“That was where we found her… body,” Dillon told him quietly. “We found her legs over there behind the dryers. Her arms were over there behind the sewing machine. And in answer to your last question, we found her head in one of the dryers. She’d been cooking in there for awhile.”
“Oh,” Clint said simply and had to fight down another wave of nausea.
A little later, they were sitting across another cup of coffee at Gill’s Grill. Neither of them had spoken for almost thirty minutes.
“She was working on something for you,” Marshall told him.
“So, the Chief Deputy thinks I’m involved in these… crimes because Allen was my friend and Myra was making something for me? That’s ridiculous,” Clint said.
“I know,” Marshall agreed. “I don’t see the connection. What was she making for you?”
“What difference does it make?”
“It doesn’t. I was just curious.”
“She was making a costume,” Clint said and then wished he had lied for some reason. It didn’t sound right.
“For my suit of armor.”
“Oh. I didn’t know you had a suit of armor.”
“Well, I just got it, really. I mean it came from one of the storage units. A guy let his contract lapse.”
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